…Says Chukwu connived with Permanent Secretary to divert money from FMC Gusau to purchase mosquito nets in Enugu
…Alleges another N200 million NHIS fund syphoned
…Senator Adeyeye kicks as Adewole apologizes, begs for forgiveness
Tunde Opalana, Abuja
Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC Zamfara Central) on Tuesday opened a can of worms on how a former health minister in the country diverted funds meant for healthcare facilities in Zamfara State to Enugu State.
He accused Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, former Minister of Health of conniving with the then Permanent Secretary in his ministry to divert Constituency project fund worth N300 million meant for procurement of equipment for the Federal Medical Center, Gusau to his home state of Enugu to procure misquito nets.
The Senator made the disclosure at plenary when the Senate had in session the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole who had come to brief the Senate on the state of teaching hospitals in the country.
The embittered Marafa further alleged syphoning of another N200m he provided through the Constituency project fund for the enlisting the people of Zamfara State in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Senate majority whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye ( Osun Central) who was enraged by the staiking revelation knocked Marafa for not reporting the minister to the Senate for legislative sanctioning.
However, health minister, Adewole who apologised on behalf of Chukwu for the ugly incident urged the Senator to forget the issue completely.
Relaying the issue, Sen. Marafa said “upon assumption of office, I had an interaction with you based on the petition I wrote to the office of Mr President.
It is closely related with what I said now that members of National Assembly would have paid this N100 million naira from the constituency project.
” In 2012, my first term in office, the Medical Director FMC Gusau came to my office. He said he came to greet me after defending his budget
“He drew my attention to the challenge the hospital faced. He said today, FMC Gusau lacks so many vital equipment.
“He said an accident victim would either be taken to Zaria or Sokoto which is about 200 kilometres distance either way because of the state of the hospital.
” I asked him what can I do to assist? He told some of the equipment we need to put in the medical centre.
“I now asked him to do the costing of some of the equipment they need. He did it and came with a figure of N300 million that time.
“Having come from Zamfara which is in north west. The zone that most senators and members receive last constituency project.
“My cash call is N197 million. So I went to the then Senate President, Sen. David Mark, and I told him what the medical director told me and he graciously approved that I should be given the remaining part of this to make the N300 million which I now domiciled in FMC Gusau to purchase those critical equipment so that in the event of any accident, which we don’t know who is going to be, people can be attended to in Gusau without being taken to Zaria of Sokoto.
“Honourable Minister, through 2012, 2013, 2014 up to 2015, that project did not see the light of the day after the money was paid 100 per cent.
That year, I could remember only Sen. Chukwumerije of blessed memory and myself domiciled their constituency projects in Ministry of Health. His own, N25 million, while my own was a whole N300 million. It was during Jonathan administration.
“But what happened? The great Minister of Health, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu, took the money belonging to the Federal Medical Centre, Gusau, the money belonging to the people of Zamfara central that I domiciled in the hospital and took it in active connivance with his permanent secretary, they took the money to Enugu to buy mosquito nets.
They use my N300 million to buy mosquito nets. I wrote a petition to Mr President
“Sir, 2015, you promised me that you are going to address this issue, from 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, up till now, 2019, I am retiring.
The money belongs to the people of Zamfara and it is no where to be found. Now we can hear the failures in Zamfara.
“Again in 2017, I put the whole of my consistency project of about N200 million into NHIS because I have learnt of the advantage the people derived when they are registered into NHIS.
“Honourable Minister, till today, the story has been, we have to get a letter from the SGF, we have to do this, we have to do that.
” To me, it is like there is a general gang up to sabotage the people of Zamfara state by the Ministry of Health to deny us of this money that senators and members of the House of Representatives have always been blackmailed and called names in the name of pocketing constituency project allowances.
” If we have gotten this money, this is what it could have done to my people
” Is there anything you can do especially about my N300 and N200 million to help my people?
Responding, Adewole acknowledged the misapplication of the fund, apologised and begged the Senator to forget the issue.
He said he always feel embarrassed whenever he sees Senator Marafa.
Adewole said “I want you to accept the final apology and let us move forward”.
But he said he was not aware of the NHIS fund.